Children in Crisis Program

Program Description

The Children in Crisis (CiC) Program focuses on addressing the critical needs of crisis-affected children and youth in humanitarian contexts. The impact of humanitarian crises on children has reached catastrophic proportions; today, nearly 50 million children have been displaced from their homes due to violence, poverty, or natural disaster.1 Because of their inherent vulnerability, children are disproportionately affected by war, social unrest, disaster and economic crisis. Within settings of conflict and crisis, they are susceptible to harm due to the loss of adult care-providers, disruption of social structure and protections, environment of violence and exploitation and, often, a lack of health infrastructure equipped for pediatrics. The CiC program strives to confront the complex and unique needs of children whose lives have been upended by humanitarian crisis. With one in every four children in the world living in a country afflicted by conflict or disaster, it is essential for the international community to understand more fully children’s unique needs in order to prevent, mitigate, and address these detrimental health consequences.

Specific Program Goals Include:

The Children in Crisis program informs approaches to reduce the vulnerability of children in humanitarian settings and to support national-level resilience strategies. The program’s goal is to translate the knowledge gained from working with affected communities into timely, effective and sustainable programs and policy. CiC reduces the impact of conflict or crisis on children through:

  • Defining and supporting pediatric care needs in the humanitarian context, working towards ensuring effective health services reach children
  • Conducting operational research and scholarship to inform humanitarian action around effectiveness of youth-focused health interventions
  • Collaborating with NGO’s, UN agencies, Ministries of Health, and academia to address identified pediatric healthcare needs
  • Educating the next generation of humanitarian actors to have the knowledge and skills to provide services for children in complex humanitarian crises
  • Convening national and international stakeholders to advance research and programmatic priorities context and share best practices for the healthcare of children in the humanitarian

Program Streams

Operational: Support NGOs, UN agencies, and health ministries to more effectively respond to child health needs in emergencies by providing technical guidance, programmatic guidance and monitoring.

Research: Define the immediate and long-term needs of children in acute and protracted humanitarian crises and to identify best practice interventions.

Education: Engage in educational activities including online education, professional education, and Harvard University courses. 

Featured Projects

Liberia Ebola Response: During the 2014-2015 Ebola response, programming supporting infection control was implemented in all 23 Liberian government hospitals. Initiatives leveraged the pediatric department relationships in partnership with Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons’ to provide emergency response.  This project supported local healthcare workers to help develop and fully implement this multisector and multidisciplinary approach to hospital safety for patients and healthcare workers through training, improvement of water and sanitation, supply provision and mentorship. Once implemented, no cases of Ebola were transmitted in any public hospitals in Liberia.


Kos Refugee Camp, Greece

Occupied Palestinian Territories